Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Wild Parrot Safari in NYC

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Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Image: Magnus Manske, 10 May 2008, Wikipedia [larger view]

Even though NYC is located in the armpit of hell where, during the summers, the air is a humid miasma of fetid human sweat and decomposing dog shit, and the winters possess the cold and wind of Antarctica with none of its natural charms, there is a brave group of illegal aliens who not only live here, but are actually thriving. Who are these illegals? They are Quaker parrots, also known as Monk or Grey-Breasted parakeets, Myiopsitta monachus.

And if you live in or near NYC, or are visiting the Big Apple on 12 September, you can meet these personable little parrots as they wander tirelessly through their NYC home in the borough of Brooklyn (the day after you’ve participated in another local nature event; the NYC Area Cricket Crawl). For your convenience, this safari has been broken into several sections so you can either tag along for the entire thing, or just part of it. [NOTE: these parrots are actually not wild at all. Because their ancestors were domesticated pets that either escaped or were so rudely abandoned by their selfish and inconsiderate owners, these birds are actually considered to be feral.]

What: Wild Parrot Safari — First Section
Where: entrance to Brooklyn College, 2900 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY [map]
Date: 12 September 2009
When: 1100 to 1330

What: Wild Parrot Safari — Second Section
Where: Green-Wood Cemetery, 500 25th St, Brooklyn, NY [map]
Date: 12 September 2009
When: 1330 to 1500

Cost: Free!!
Supplies needed: photo ID; binoculars; camera; hat/sunscreen; bird seed, such as peanut hearts, sunflower seeds, millet or other nutritional birdseed (no french fries or — god forbid — bread!); snacks or water for yourself.
Caution: DO NOT WEAR ORANGE! The color orange mysteriously frightens the parrots and scaring the birds away will result in you being unceremoniously dropped head-first into the nearest dumpster.

Read More About it: Brooklyn Parrots website.

Comments

  1. #1 Arikia
    August 28, 2009

    Babiez!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to go! Barring some kind of unforeseen obligation I am going. Yaaayyy!!!

  2. #2 "GrrlScientist"
    August 28, 2009

    coolio! this will be very fun! i can hardly wait! first crickets, and next, parrots! who sez NYC is an urban wasteland?

  3. #3 JohnV
    August 28, 2009

    The parrots just tough it out during the winter?

    Although I’d like to note that if you think winter in NYC is bad you should spend some time in Syracuse :P

  4. #4 DSC
    August 28, 2009

    These adventurous little parakeets are actually fairly widespread throughout the US (at least in pockets). Bright flashes of green often brighten up the snow-whitened south side of Chicago where I live. The birds are year round residents. In the winter we see their bright plumage, in the spring we hear their loud calls and see them decorating power lines. The parakeets’ large dome nests (2-6 feet in diameter) populate trees in every local park. It is unclear to me how many birds live in one nest. The nests are entered from below. The people taking the “Obama’s Chicago” tours often see these guys, since there are at least two nests within three blocks of the Obama’s home. For an invading/non-indigenous species, I like these guys, they brighten my day.

  5. #5 "GrrlScientist"
    August 28, 2009

    i hear them frequently and see them fairly often on the UWS of manhattan. unfortunately, i see them as singles or couples, instead of larger groups such as what occur in brooklyn. but i am already getting ready to write a photoessay about them to share with all my peeps!

  6. #6 John
    August 28, 2009

    Sounds intriguing. I’ve been meaning to catch up with some Monk Parakeets (since it would be a life bird), but haven’t gotten around to it so far.

  7. #7 llewelly
    August 28, 2009

    These parrots are just moving into the niche the Carolina Parakeet was hunted out of.

  8. #8 Kathleen
    August 28, 2009

    Actually, Monk Parakeets haven’t been in captivity long enough to be considered domesticated. I’ve been corrected by ornithologists who consider the Monks to be a naturalized species, not feral. Most of the established wild populations in North America came from imported birds that got loose, or were released, en masse, not from the occasional lost pet.